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Durbin urges action in wake of closure of Vatterott Educational Centers

Vatterott Educational Centers, which operates in Fairview Heights and throughout the St. Louis area, announced Monday the immediate closure of all its campuses Monday.

In a letter sent to students, the for-profit college blamed the decision on a U.S. Department of Education move to limit Vatterott’s participation in federal financial aid programs.

“Vatterott is unable to continue operation under these restrictions, and consequently, is unable to complete the aforementioned sale,” the letter reads. “The Department imposed these restrictions despite the presence of an interested buyer and our clear communication that such restrictions would result in the school’s closure.”

The announcement prompted U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to ask other colleges to help those Vatterott students who are affected.

“I am calling on Illinois community colleges to step up and help the students that Vatterott and the for-profit college industry have failed,” Durbin, a longtime critic of the for-profit college industry, said in a statement.
According to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the move ends a pending sale of most the Vatterott campuses to another for-profit education company, Education Corporation of America, which officials said in January would have allowed the school to remain operational.

The chain has campuses in Fairview Heights, Berkeley, St. Charles and Sunset Hills, as well as 11 more across the Midwest.

All Vatterott schools were placed on probation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges this year.

In November, the commission voted to revoke Vatterott’s accreditation, saying that the Berkeley-based school failed to “demonstrate successful student achievement and by maintaining acceptable rates of student graduation and graduate employment.”

Durbin minced no words in his criticism of the industry.

“Another overcharging, underperforming for-profit college has closed its doors. It’s the second major chain in just the last three weeks to abruptly close. And it won’t be the last. With the collapse of Vatterott College, another 156 students in Illinois and 2,300 nationwide are left high and dry,” his statement said.

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